Posted by: Timothy Ellis (The Tim)

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

138 responses to “NWMLS: Closed Sales Allegedly Spike 33138 in December”

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  1. ARDELL

    At least 5% of the differential could simply be November was short and December was inflated because of this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILDOqppQL-U

    Some late November closings pushed into early December. I know you hate “weather” reasons…but weather can be a considerable issue when you can’t get up into Queen Anne :) November is already a short business day month due to Thanksgiving and it being a 30 day month. So a November 30 closing pushing to December 1 to 5 is not uncommon.

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  2. ARDELL

    RE: pfft @ 98

    It’s not “absurd”…it’s who he chooses to be. Nothing wrong with that. Stop letting it get under your skin and accept it. :)

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  3. Daniel

    RE: One Eyed Man @ 66 – My main point was not a criticism of capitalism. I however have to comment on what you describe as the need for innovation.

    1) Science spending in the US is down as a percentage of GDP, both in industry and public spending.
    2) Both US and international patent law are hopelessly broken. Instead of encouraging innovation as much as possible it more and more serves to defend big players from real innovation.
    3) The whole notion of intellectual property is pretty close to the notion of a “thought crime”. This also discourages innovation quite heavily.

    Two examples:
    a) In the early 19th century, England already had a strong copyright law and publishers were so rich they displayed their wealth with ornamented carriages. In Germany there was no copyright and it had the highest density of printing presses and the most books sold per capita. This challenges many peoples ides about copyright being vital for innovation. The subsequent economic development was that England started to play a much lesser role (The British Empire declined) and that Germany gained economic power but squandered the prospects in needless wars.
    b) The fact that China ignores “the rules” has pushed more innovation in the last years than our outdated and industry oriented patent law. 95% of all patents today are on trivialities that never were intended to be patentable when the system was introduced. Their main purpose is legal leverage for large firms and this discourages innovation greatly.

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  4. Kary L. Krismer

    By ARDELL @ 96:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 71 – I’ll assume that was a joke. A person’s ethics does not contract and expand based on paying a $500 a month fee to “have them”..

    No, but it won’t affect your ethics, but your behavior will change if you’re subject to being fined/sanctioned!

    In that regard, you’ve argued in the past that short sale status should not have to be disclosed by a listing agent or seller. Not doing so would probably get you in trouble with all three entities (NWMLS, DOL and SKCAR). I’m sure I could come up with some issue where SKCAR would be the only entity to punish you for a certain activity. And I suspect a consumer would prefer to have a choice of entities to pick to complain through if they had a complaint about their agent.

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  5. pfft

    By Scotsman @ 99:

    RE: pfft @ 98

    “by the way the recession has been over for over 16 months”

    Tell that to the millions of unemployed/underemployed and the ever increasing number who are losing their homes, as well as the millions who will be laid off from or suffer reductions in pay/hours worked at their state, county, and city jobs as 2011 budgets come into play What an a@s.

    I didn’t say anything about the unemployed. way to prove my point again.

    by the way the unemployment rate peaked more than a year ago. the private sector added 1,000,000 jobs last year. your beloved austerity at the state and local level is holding back the economy. you should love this economy. it’s what you want. austerity.

    the scotsman economy.

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  6. Kary L. Krismer

    By ARDELL @ 96:

    RE:For those asking about the spike with regard to short sales and foreclosures, October which had more sales than November overall, had 21% SS+BO. October had 24% and December had 29%.

    I’m showing slightly different numbers, and would note that October was down as a percentage mainly because total sales were up. By my calculations, less than 150 of the increase in December was due to REOs and short sales. If you’re just looking at the increase from October, that could be most of it, but it’s not if you look at the other months.

    Estimate from NWMLS sources but not compiled or guaranteed by the NWMLS.

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  7. ARDELL

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 104

    Kary…if the seller is bringing the difference to the table…it is not a short sale, even if the payoff is short. As long as the seller pays the amount at closing, not a matter of disclosure. It is not “subject to lienholder approval”.

    If it is a short sale…you check a box.

    Pretty simple stuff, Kary. Not rocket science or ethics.

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  8. Kary L. Krismer

    By ARDELL @ 107:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 104

    Kary…if the seller is bringing the difference to the table…it is not a short sale, even if the payoff is short. As long as the seller pays the amount at closing, not a matter of disclosure. It is not “subject to lienholder approval”.

    If it is a short sale…you check a box.

    Pretty simple stuff, Kary. Not rocket science or ethics.

    Not sure what that has to do with anything. I agree it’s not a short sale if the seller has the funds to close. If it’s not a short sale there’s nothing to to be disclosed and no “box to check.”

    Your position before was that short sales should not have to be disclosed to the general public or the even the buyers agents because it put the seller at a disadvantage. That position would get you in trouble with all three entities mentioned if you followed through on it as an agent and didn’t disclose a short sale as such. If you were not a “Realtor” then that position would only get you in trouble with two entities.

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  9. Daniel

    RE: pfft @ 105 – 1 million new jobs? from 2000 to 2010 the census shows a population growth of 27 million. Lets be conservative and neglect the exponential nature assuming that in the last year the population grew by 2.7 million people. A conservative estimate for the labor force would be 50% (the 2009 estimate was 154.2 million and the 2010 census shows 308.7 million people living in the US). With this assumption and the assumption that the percentage of the labor force did not change significantly in a single year roughly (1.35 million – 0.135 million) new jobs would be needed to compensate for population growth. I subtracted 135k as labor force by definition includes the unemployed. With other words: Anything below 1.2 million is not a success story at all.

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  10. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Daniel @ 109 – I would agree not to be excited about a million new jobs, but I’m not sure your analysis is correct. The illegal worker population and flow rate probably looked a lot different before 2007 than it did after.

    Which reminds me of a West Wing story line from near the end of that series. They basically pointed out that the reason for the inflow from Mexico was that our economy was so much better. The solution they proposed though was different than what occurred in real life. They didn’t propose making our economy more like Mexico’s! ;-)

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  11. Fran Tarkenton

    Interesting quote from the NYT this afternoon that relates to the “increasing mortgage rates mean that you are priced out forever, but no one else is, since you’re the only one who isn’t buying with cash” discussion that’s upthread somewhere:

    “For every percentage point rise in rates, 300,000 to 400,000 would-be buyers historically are priced out of the market in a given year, according to the National Association of Realtors. ”

    They don’t show their work, so take it for what you will.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/realestate/mortgages/09mort.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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  12. Daniel

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 110 – I agree that illegal workers do not show up in some places but their influence is hard to gauge. For one illegals are to a large part already excluded from my calculation as they are also excluded from the work force percentage. I agree that some effects remains if illegal immigration got more prevalent in recent years. The goal of my back of the envelope estimate is simply to illustrate that 1 million is not a success.

    Lets make sort of a worst case scenario and exclude a high-estimate of illegals from above calculation in addition to assuming a small workforce: out of above numbers migration is roughly 44%, the rest is internal population growth. Lets assume half of immigration is illegal, which would mean only 0.5*0.78*2.7=1.05 million workforce, which leads to roughly 950k jobs needed to break even.

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  13. ARDELL

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 108

    Kary…your memory is simply incorrect or it is so far back that there was no box to check if it were a short sale.

    The only other possible explanation for your insane rantings is if the list price clears the table and the offer price doesn’t.

    Either way…it’s a dumb conversation when we are talking about the real estate market and “off topic”. Put it back in your grudge box.

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  14. Ross

    By Scotsman @ 99:

    RE: pfft @ 98

    “by the way the recession has been over for over 16 months”

    Tell that to the millions of unemployed/underemployed and the ever increasing number who are losing their homes, as well as the millions who will be laid off from or suffer reductions in pay/hours worked at their state, county, and city jobs as 2011 budgets come into play What an a@s.

    By the most widely used definition of a recession – 2 or more months of negative GDP growth, the recession has been over for a while. Of course, if you want to redefine what a recession is, then we can still be in recession. But using a trailing indicator exclusively (such as employment) to measure a recession is also going to make the recession be trailing reality.

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  15. Civil Servant

    Regarding the suggestion that some who read this site and post in forums regard buying a house as “solely an economic decision” (Kary @ 90) — I’m just speaking for myself, but I save the teeth-gnashing and agonizing over non-economic factors for when I talk to my friends, who tend to be less well versed in macroeconomics, Case-Shiller data, the use of data in general, etc. than are the fine regulars at Seattle Bubble and better acquainted with me me me. Besides, that subject matter is personal and I suspect a lot of you don’t want to hear it anyway: or, wait, are my reproductive plans actually something you’ve been aching to know? Just because you don’t have evidence of something does not mean it doesn’t exist.

    I also have a lot of friends who have bought houses over the past several years and regret it because they are underwater and/or because they couldn’t sell and break even, they are locked for a long time into what was supposed to be a starter house. One of my good friends is facing up to the fact that a short sale is inevitable for her, and I suspect another one will get to that point soon. When I talk about house stuff with them I feel guilty, as though I am eating ice cream in front of Roger Ebert and telling him how delicious it is. Honestly I don’t have that many venues in which to discuss the economic aspects of buying or not buying a house *except* places like this. I don’t care if people think I have a calculator for a heart, because I know I don’t.

    Greenwoodian, your house sounds great. Congratulations on a well-thought-out purchase.

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  16. pfft

    By Daniel @ 109:

    RE: pfft @ 105 – 1 million new jobs? from 2000 to 2010 the census shows a population growth of 27 million. Lets be conservative and neglect the exponential nature assuming that in the last year the population grew by 2.7 million people. A conservative estimate for the labor force would be 50% (the 2009 estimate was 154.2 million and the 2010 census shows 308.7 million people living in the US). With this assumption and the assumption that the percentage of the labor force did not change significantly in a single year roughly (1.35 million – 0.135 million) new jobs would be needed to compensate for population growth. I subtracted 135k as labor force by definition includes the unemployed. With other words: Anything below 1.2 million is not a success story at all.

    compared to what we had in 08 and 09 it is. a real stimulus plan would have created millions more jobs too.

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  17. Scotsman

    RE: pfft @ 116RE: Ross @ 114

    I understand that by strict definition the recession is over. Whoop-de-do. And maybe for those who navigate by looking in the rear view mirror it means everything is now fine. Yup, as soon as those pesky “lagging indicators” catch up with the powerful recovery we’re experiencing everything will be OK. Good luck with that- it’s going to be a long wait for the laggers.

    What very few seem to understand is that the unemployment number is comprised of both a numerator and a denominator, and that it’s possible to make the number/percentage appear to reduce by changing either of the two components- number employed and number of potential employees. Most of the “reduction” in unemployment hasn’t been because of new hires, but because of a redefining of the potential pool as the chronically unemployed drop off the rolls. In short, the reporting of reduced unemployment is nothing but a mathematical manipulation.

    We need to add 100,000+ jobs a month, or 1.2 million a year, just to break even with population growth. We haven’t even been doing that. The percentage of the population that works has been continuing to decline. That is not a recovery, lagging or not. And this isn’t a “bear” perspective- it’s a fact.

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  18. Ross

    By Scotsman @ 117:

    RE: pfft @ 116RE: Ross @ 114

    I understand that by strict definition the recession is over. Whoop-de-do. And maybe for those who navigate by looking in the rear view mirror it means everything is now fine. Yup, as soon as those pesky “lagging indicators” catch up with the powerful recovery we’re experiencing everything will be OK. Good luck with that- it’s going to be a long wait for the laggers.

    What very few seem to understand is that the unemployment number is comprised of both a numerator and a denominator, and that it’s possible to make the number/percentage appear to reduce by changing either of the two components- number employed and number of potential employees. Most of the “reduction” in unemployment hasn’t been because of new hires, but because of a redefining of the potential pool as the chronically unemployed drop off the rolls. In short, the reporting of reduced unemployment is nothing but a mathematical manipulation.

    We need to add 100,000+ jobs a month, or 1.2 million a year, just to break even with population growth. We haven’t even been doing that. The percentage of the population that works has been continuing to decline. That is not a recovery, lagging or not. And this isn’t a “bear” perspective- it’s a fact.

    We’ll see. I agree that employment is one of the most important political measures of the health of the economy and that official statistics are more complicated that one would hope they’d be. However, jobs can start coming back suddenly and in big numbers – that is what has happened in prior recessions. Things can look pretty bleak in the employment figures and then suddenly big hiring starts happening. I’m not predicting that will happen tomorrow, but other forward indicators of the economy are looking up – retail sales, lending, stock market etc.

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  19. Ira Sacharoff

    RE: Civil Servant @ 115
    You don’t have a calculator for a heart.
    I was curious about your remark concerning Roger Ebert and ice cream. I thought I remembered that he’d had a heart attack, but in fact it was cancer . He lost much of his jaw in cancer surgery and can’t eat. He wrote a cookbook even though he doesn’t eat. And he still writes movie reviews, and no doubt fantasizes about ice cream.

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  20. Kary L. Krismer

    By ARDELL @ 113:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 108

    Kary…your memory is simply incorrect or it is so far back that there was no box to check if it were a short sale.

    The only other possible explanation for your insane rantings is if the list price clears the table and the offer price doesn’t.

    Either way…it’s a dumb conversation when we are talking about the real estate market and “off topic”. Put it back in your grudge box.

    This is just like your memory on your predictions. Conveniently bad.

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  21. One Eyed Man

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 119 -

    I know a lawyer who has a heart. He says its been difficult for him and he has to take a handful of anti-rejection drugs every morning since the surgery.

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  22. Kary L. Krismer

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 104:

    By ARDELL @ 96:
    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 71 – I’ll assume that was a joke. A person’s ethics does not contract and expand based on paying a $500 a month fee to “have them”..

    No, but it won’t affect your ethics, but your behavior will change if you’re subject to being fined/sanctioned!

    In that regard, you’ve argued in the past that short sale status should not have to be disclosed by a listing agent or seller. Not doing so would probably get you in trouble with all three entities (NWMLS, DOL and SKCAR). I’m sure I could come up with some issue where SKCAR would be the only entity to punish you for a certain activity. And I suspect a consumer would prefer to have a choice of entities to pick to complain through if they had a complaint about their agent.

    To help cure Ardell of her memory problems:

    Thread: http://raincityguide.com/2008/10/21/leave-the-gun-take-the-cannoli/

    10/22/08 9:29am

    Before I leave the listing side, I still find it very troubling that all the “rules” force the owner to “show their hand”. Clearly the seller loses ALL leverage once it is disclosed that it is a “short sale”. This to me is INSANE!
    . . .
    Why do we not give the seller the opportunity to “play their cards close to their vest” and how can we say we represent the seller when we do not?

    10/22/08 11:09am

    Clearly Kary…there is NO real rationale justifying the agent for the seller standing on a mountaintop and screaming “distressed property seller over here!” I think you know that, deep down. There are grave consequences to the seller…

    11/22/08 3:15 pm

    A short sale is not a defect of the property like a leaky roof. This issue comes up time and time again. At one point buyers felt that owners with aids should disclose that as a “defect” of the house. That is why the decision of what to disclose must by made from the seller’s position and not the buyer’s, if it is not about the house itself. Buyers would like to know everything, and often feel entitled to know everything, but that is not always the case.

    At 4:32 pm I basically give you the same answer I give in post 108 here–that it’s not a short sale if the seller has other funds.

    It goes on. You were very intense on the issue.

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  23. ARDELL

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 122

    LOL Kary…go take a pill and look up “off topic”.

    There’s a simple checkbox for SS. BEFORE there was a simple checkbox, there was an issue. There is NO LONGER an issue because…there is a check box now. There’s a big difference between a checkbox and hanging a big banner on the house.

    Here’s what I always say and it will not change. FIRST I consider the best interest of MY client. Then I consider the general public trust. LAST I consider what other agents like and don’t like.

    I’m always intense…I’m Italian. Get over it.

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  24. Scotsman

    RE: One Eyed Man @ 121

    “I know a lawyer who has a heart”

    OK, so you’re one in a million- and look like Brad Pitt. Don’t brag.

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  25. Scotsman

    RE: Ross @ 118

    This time IS different:

    http://i.huffpost.com/gen/224946/JOB-MARKET-CHART.jpg

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  26. Scotsman
  27. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: ARDELL @ 123 – Give me a break. You’re honestly trying to argue that you’re okay with checking a box to disclose that something is a short sale, when before you were totally opposed to disclosing in the agent only remarks (only seen by agents) that it was a short sale?

    That’s not the difference in facts that has resulted in your difference of opinion, but just to see you squirm for an explanation, how does checking the box that it’s a short sale reduce a seller’s negotiation position any less than stating in agent-only remarks that it’s a short sale? The answer is it doesn’t, but that you’ve now changed your position for other reasons. You noted above: “A person’s ethics does not contract and expand based on paying a $500 a month fee to ‘have them”. That may be, but apparently they do change for other reasons because you’ve changed your position on this issue. Fortunately you’ve changed in favor of the ethical and legal position of disclosing a material condition, so that’s a good thing.

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  28. Ira Sacharoff

    What’s with this Ardell and Kary war? Do we need an intervention? Or should we just let them go at it like The Crips and The Bloods? We just don’t want any “innocent” real estate agents caught in the crossfire.

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  29. Blake

    RE: Scotsman @ 126
    Everyone should look at and consider those two unemployment/employment charts!! Thanks for posting them Scotsman… incredible…

    And look at the second chart and the ’02-’06 “jobless recovery” that never did return to the levels of employment reached in the late 90s. I recall reading a Businessweek article in late ’07/early ’08 that mentioned that the then economic expansion was the first in US history where real median income did not increase! >50% of Americans did not participate in the recovery – - THEN the financial crisis hit!! SOS…

    Barry’s notes…
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/01/a-closer-look-at-december-2010-nfp-data/
    The Labor market still faces several major headwinds:
    1. Post credit-crisis recoveries tend to be weak ion terms of both GDP and job creation. This recovery is no different;
    2. States and municipalities face growing budget gaps; they are freezing hiring and cutting headcount.
    3. The Residential Housing market remains somewhat over-priced, with bloated inventory and a disinterested pool of buyers.
    4. Consumers continue to deleverage and add to savings. The Paradox of Thrift has put a cap on the slowly improving retail environment
    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_thrift

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  30. What’s With the December Bump in Closed Sales? • Seattle Bubble

    [...] January 7, 2011 | Leave a responseAs promised, I’d like to take a little time to go into the odd December bump in closed sales according to the numbers released this week by the NWMLS. Here are the three points I’ll be [...]

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  31. ARDELL

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 127

    Kary…you’re the lawyer…you should “get” it. It’s like the difference between a Form 17 noting a defect and the “marketing remarks” noting a defect. Before the mls put in a SS field the only place to put it was in the marketing remarks. Maybe our intense discussion online caused someone to notice a field was needed. Who knows.

    What we do know is no part of this discussion belongs on this post. It’s rude . Stop it!

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  32. Blurtman

    RE: Blake @ 129 – “The reported unemployment rate fell a substantial .4% to 9.4%. However, much of that that gain is a statistical mirage. The BLS reports a whopping 260,000 people dropped out of the work force. As a result the participation rate fell to a new low of 64.3%.”

    http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2011/01/bls-job-report-december-nonfarm.html

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  33. Kary L. Krismer

    By ARDELL @ 131:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 127

    Kary…you’re the lawyer…you should “get” it. It’s like the difference between a Form 17 noting a defect and the “marketing remarks” noting a defect. it!

    No it’s not. What I get is you trying to deny what your prior position was. In the prior thread you thought it was somehow ethical to only analyze the situation from one side’s point of view. Whatever gave the seller the better result (non-disclosure of a material fact) was okay in your view because it didn’t harm the seller’s negotiating position. That’s not how you analyze ethical issues.

    That the disclosure is now by what you call a checkbox, rather than in the agent only remarks, is irrelevant and merely you attempting to side-track the discussion. Your position before was that the buyer’s agent shouldn’t need to be told.

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  34. ARDELL

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 133

    What I object to Kary is ANY governing body that considers how things impact the MEMBERS without taking into consideration how the rules impact the buyers and sellers of homes. When the house is listed at a price that will clear the table, there is a gray area where I absolutely must consider my clients positive and negative impact. And yes, I absolutely DO consider my client’s interest first when I determine a strategy. You should as well. All agents should, and so should the rulemakers.

    If you want to accuse me of heavily weighing “my clients negotiating position”. Great! Thank you! I do! No doubt about it!

    But again…this is not the place to unload you beefs off-topic to the post thread.

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  35. Kary L. Krismer

    By ARDELL @ 134:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 133 – What I object to Kary is ANY governing body that considers how things impact the MEMBERS without taking into consideration how the rules impact the buyers and sellers of homes. When the house is listed at a price that will clear the table, there is a gray area where I absolutely must consider my clients positive and negative impact. And yes, I absolutely DO consider my client’s interest first when I determine a strategy. You should as well. All agents should, and so should the rulemakers.

    This is just plain downright wrong and incorrect. When you try to develop a strategy for a client you have to look at the probable results of the option as well as the legality and ethics of the option. The result that will generate the highest price is not necessarily the best option.

    And it’s not like SKCAR is out on a limb here, you are. Again both the NWMLS and DOL would sanction you for the type of nondisclosure you were advocating in the other thread. I really think you need to give up on this because you’re just digging yourself a deeper hole the more you post. The rules you didn’t like in the other thread existed for a reason. They are not bad rules simply because you don’t understand.

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  36. ARDELL

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 135

    Not a problem Kary, because I will not act counter to the best interest of my client. You can tell me I have to til the cows come home. It ain’t gonna happen.

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  37. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: ARDELL @ 136 – I’d suggest you re-think that, because simply not being a member of NAR and not having to follow their ethical rules won’t protect you.

    RCW 18.86.030 provides the duties of an agent include the duty: “(d) To disclose all existing material facts known by the licensee and not apparent or readily ascertainable to a party; provided that this subsection shall not be construed to imply any duty to investigate matters that the licensee has not agreed to investigate;”

    Using your simplistic one-sided analysis it would be proper for an agent to help assist a client in fraudulent activity, because that would get the best result for your client. The analysis of what is proper to do extends beyond determining what is best for your client.

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  38. Seattle Real Estate: A Hot Market or a “Terrible Idea”? | The SunBreak

    [...] December 2010 showed a surprising surge in King County closed sales. How much of a surge, and what drove it, is up for debate, but one thing is clear–more closed [...]

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